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Erica & Adelaide

Pregnancy

Although our little lady wasn’t completely unplanned, finding out we were pregnant was a huge mix of shock/excitement/fear of the unknown. I was able to have my first scan at 6 weeks followed by another a week later to check growth as my dates were a little out. 

From then on pregnancy felt more like a trial/test of endurance rather than an enjoyable experience. I always felt so guilty feeling that way as I know so many people including several close friends who dream of being pregnant or have been trying for a long time. Ironically, now looking back I miss it a little…. you forget what that bump feels like so quickly.

I struggled with hyperemesis gravidarum from 6 weeks onwards and although the medication I was given at 7 weeks eased it enough to help me keep small meals down, it never really went away completely, and I was still being sick several times a week right up until I gave birth. 

At our 12 weeks scan we received a high Nuchal neck measurement which sent us into a whirlwind of anxious waiting rooms, scans, and specialist referrals. Eventually we decided to accept the recommendation for an amniocentesis at 15 weeks to hopefully put our minds at rest or a least prepare us a little in the worst case. Thankfully we were so blessed to receive good news that our baby was healthy and that we would be having a little girl. This was confirmed again by the specialist who did our 20-week scan. We had scans every 4 weeks after that which was a nice bonus and I enjoyed seeing our baby girl grow

Birth

From about 38 weeks onwards I’d been having Braxton Hicks in the evenings. I would time them and a few times it even said that I was in established labour, but it never lasted for more than an hour and it always felt totally manageable. It was quite disappointing to feel them fade away each night. It became a bit of a joke that I would wake up every morning and say to my husband (W) “still pregnant” and roll my eyes. 

At 40 weeks (26/03) we went for a routine check-up at the hospital, went over a few of my birth preferences again and monitored the baby for half an hour. Everything looked good and we booked the next check for 4 days time.

I tried to relax as much as I could and enjoy the last few “quiet” days, but I was feeling impatient. On the evening of the 29th I had been texting an Aunt and joked that I felt so far away from giving birth, little did I know that in just a few short hours I’d be holding my baby. 

I woke up at 2:00am and it didn’t take more than a few seconds for me to realise that I was having contractions. They felt much stronger than any of the Braxton Hicks I had experienced, and I knew straight away that it was go time. 

I didn’t want to rush to the hospital and be told to go home again and I didn’t want to wake W in the middle of the night until I had a bit more of an idea of what was going on so I just got up quietly and went to run a nice lavender bath. I lit some candles and started timing and the app immediately said I was in established labour. 

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The contractions were intense, but I could get through them with up breathing and in between I felt absolutely fine. 

I hung out in the bath for a little while, but I wanted more space to move around. At about 3am I got out the bath and took two paracetamols. The most comfortable place to sit was the toilet so I ended up camping out there for another hour and a half with a podcast on, (thanks Parenting Hell haha), up breathing through each contraction. 

At 4:30am I decided that it felt like time to wake as things were progressing…or not going away at least. I called him from the bathroom and told him it was go time. He asked if I’d called the hospital and I said no as I’d wanted to see how far I could get on my own first which I think made him a little flustered. 

I called the hospital and they said to make their way in, so we grabbed the last few bits to go in my bag and got ourselves ready to go. We left the house at 5am by which point I was having to stand still and really breathe through each contraction. We live at the top of 4 flights of stairs so I remember trying to wait by the door for the contraction to finish so I could make it to the bottom of the stairs before the next one started. 

 

Call it a sixth sense but as we left I told W to just run back and grab a towel for me to sit on in the car. The drive to the hospital took about 20/25mins and we didn’t really talk much I just kept my eyes closed and focused on breathing. As we pulled into the emergency parking, we had to go over a little speed bump and as we did I felt a tiny little pop. I told W I thought my waters broke but I couldn’t be sure. When we came for our hospital tour the midwife had said the best thing to do was park up, get up to L&D and then while they were assessing me W could go back and  re-park the car/fetch bags etc. so that’s what we were going for. W ran into the emergency entrance and let them know we were here, and someone came out with a wheelchair to take us straight up. As I stood up out of the car it was 100% clear my waters had gone and from that moment on the contractions just kind of took over and it felt like there was basically no time at all between them. When we got up to L&D (around 5:30am) they were all ready for us and the room was already set up with the pool and beautiful dim/calm lighting. The relief I felt when I saw that beautiful room.

They helped me out of my wet leggings and I went to use the bathroom. As soon as I got into the bathroom I threw up in the bin (hello transition). From then on, the order of things gets a little muddled for me as I was so in the zone. I know I was examined pretty quick and was so elated to hear I was 5c! I was so unbelievably relieved that this was the real deal for sure and we were here to stay. The most frustrating things at the time were that the midwife wanted me to lay on the bed so she 

could do a Covid test and insert a cannula just in case I needed any meds. W said he’s never seen me so visibly annoyed about anything before but honestly those few moments were the worst part. The minute she gave me the all clear I was up. Another midwife laid out a mat on the floor for me to try an all-fours position but one contraction later I was like nope I need to get in the pool. Almost as soon as I got into the pool I said, “I feel like I should be pushing but I’m only 5cm”. The midwife said she could do another exam if I wanted as things were obviously moving fast and I could not believe it when she said I was 10cm and it was time to push. From 5 to 10cm in 45 mins! Pushing took around 1 hr (annoyingly I had a clock on the wall in my line of sight and I could see the time passing) although really it only felt like 10 mins in total. I was hanging over the side of the pool mooing with every contraction and then talking normally in between. Each time I pushed I sunk deep down into the pool and W was holding my chin above the water so I didn’t drown myself. It was the strangest sensation to feel her moving down but I started to get frustrated because every contraction

I felt like her head was almost out and then the contraction would end and she’d bob back up. W says he remembers seeing a doctor come in quietly and start preparing the baby clothes/towel in the corner which made it suddenly feel more real. The midwives were super hands off and reassuring and told me that she had lots of hair which I was apparently very encouraged by! After an hour they suggested I change to more of a leaned back sitting position to see if a different angle would help. In the end I kind of lost my breathing a bit and decided I’d had enough and pushed so hard that she just shot out all at once. It turned out she had had her hand up by her face which was why birthing the head had been a bit tricky. She was born at 7:26am, only 5.5hrs since I woke up with the first contractions and just 2hrs after arriving at the hospital.I didn’t even really remember those first few moments. I don’t remember hearing her cry or anything I just remember thinking oh my goodness it actually happened, I actually did it! 

We stayed in the pool for a few moments, but I wanted to get out, so we moved to the bed where we had skin to skin and delayed cord clamping. I had two small tears that need stitching (I think due to her hand and my impatience at the end).I tried the gas and air for those which helped but made me feel pretty sick. 

We stayed in the birthing room for a couple of hours for more cuddles and the midwives helped me to latch her for her first feed. I had a shower and some breakfast and then we moved up to the ward where I was sharing a room with one other mum. In Switzerland they like to keep you in for a few days to give you time to really rest, establish breastfeeding with the  support of the midwives (if you wish), do all the follow up checks on baby and you etc. I was a little nervous about being away from home but honestly, I loved having the support of those midwives in the first few days, especially for the random middle of the night worries and questions you get.

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Why Hypnobirthing?

 I honestly cannot recommend hypnobirthing enough. It gave me all the tools I needed and most of all, it helped me believe in myself and I realise that this kind of birth was even possible. I found it so helpful to go into it understanding the ‘science’ of what my body was doing (hormones, oxytocin, muscles working etc.) Every time I had a contraction, instead of feeling consumed by the ‘pain’ I found it such a relief knowing what that contraction was doing for my body to be able to birth this baby.

I am so lucky to have had the most wonderful birth I could have hoped for but I know that if things had needed to change or if intervention was needed, I like to think I would have been able to cope with it because I knew how to keep myself calm and focused.

 Ultimately there is no feeling quite like that superwoman feeling you get when you hold your baby for the first time and I’m just so grateful I had the hypnobirthing tools to get there.

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